All-Star Game 2011: The Drought Is Over

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 11: National League All-Star Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants looks on during the Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Chase Field on July 11, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Because you didn't ask for it, a graph representing the declining popularity of the All-Star Game:

The numbers come from Baseball Almanac, and they're pretty stunning. In 1980, the All-Star Game was watched by 20.4 million homes. In 2011, the All-Star game will be watched by Chet. He'll post a Facebook update if you want to know what happens.

But there is still something about the idea that's appealing. It's nice to have a designation for the good players -- makes it a cooler story to write that "Ryan Vogelsong went from the bowels of AAA to the All-Star Game" than just "Vogelsong wasn't good, and now he is."

Tonight, the drought ends. If you've followed this site long enough, through the Jose Castillo era and beyond, you'll know that one of my biggest gripes is that the organization hadn't developed an All-Star hitter since Matt Williams. Oh, Rich Aurilia came close in 2001, but he still had that Rangers stink on him (belt buckles, eau de Oddibe, and BBQ sauce, mostly), so he didn't really count.

Here are the players who were drafted by the Giants, or who were amateur free agents, and made their Major League debut with the team since Williams's first All-Star appearance for the Giants in 1990, and before 2008, when Pablo Sandoval debuted:

Andres Santana
Steve Decker
Ted Wood
Royce Clayton
Jim McNamara
Craig Colbert
John Patterson
Steve Hosey
Erik Johnson
Rikkert Faneyte
Rich Aurilia
Marvin Benard
Dax Jones
Jacob Cruz
Doug Mirabelli
Bill Mueller
Jay Canizaro
Marcus Jensen
Dante Powell
Pedro Feliz
Yorvit Torrealba
Cody Ransom
Tony Torcato
Trey Lunsford
Carlos Valderrama
Lance Niekro
Todd Linden
Justin Knoedler
Adam Shabala
Travis Ishikawa
Kevin Frandsen
Guillermo Rodriguez
Nate Schierholtz
Ryan Rohlinger
Steve Holm
Emmanuel Burriss
Clay Timpner
John Bowker
Brian Bocock

DON'T AVERT YOUR EYES. Roll in it. Wallow around for a while.  Think about your expectations for Tony Torcato for a second. Think about how stupid you were, how stupid we all were. While other teams were stumbling into organizational All-Stars, the Giants were actively avoiding All-Star hitters.

So I might not care about the All-Star Game that much (though I do still enjoy more than most, I suppose), but dang it, I care that Pablo Sandoval is an All-Star. Sure, he's only there because 3,239 other third basemen are hurt or in a different country, but it's still a meaningful milestone for me. Maybe I'm the only one.

When 2008 started, Pablo was an organizational afterthought, a positionless 21-year-old whose only strength seemed to be strong isolated power numbers. Then he demolished A-ball, AA, and the majors in one year. It was a parícutinian ascent after a couple of decades of hoping for Todd Linden to turn into a poor man's Bobby Kielty.

Then, in 2009, there was Victorino. Man, I hate that guy. Pablo should have gone, but he was frozen out.

In 2010, there was the Great Slump and Weight Controversy. The player who was to be the future of the rebuilding process was just a pinch-hitter during the World Series run. That stunk, but if there was any consolation, it was that Buster Posey would surely break the drought in 2011.

Then Shane Victorino injured Buster Posey. Oh, not directly, but connect the damned dots, sheeple. And with Posey and Sandoval both out with broken bones, it looked like the drought would continue.

So this is a big deal for me. I don't care if you care. I care. The Giants have an All-Star hitter. The Giants have an All-Star hitter. The Giants have an All-Star hitter.

Pablo, you magnificent bastard, thanks for working hard in the offseason. Thanks for being the hitter we knew you could be. Thanks for surprising the world with your plus defense. Happy All-Star Day. You've earned it, and I'm beaming with pride over here. Now go out there, and swing at a shoe-high fastball with the first pitch you see. Hit a double. The world needs to know your magic.

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